Sunday, June 30, 2019

Oil & Gas and Power Grids Have New "Cause for Concern" from Hackers


A report released in June, from the security firm Dragos, describes a worrisome development by a hacker group named, “Xenotime” and at least two dangerous oil and gas intrusions and ongoing reconnaissance on United States power grids.

Multiple ICS (Industrial Control Sectors) sectors now face the XENOTIME threat; this means individual verticals – such as oil and gas, manufacturing, or electric – cannot ignore threats to other ICS entities because they are not specifically targeted.

The Dragos researchers have termed this threat proliferation as the world’s most dangerous cyberthreat since an event in 2017 where Xenotime had caused a serious operational outage at a crucial site in the Middle East. 

The fact that concerns cybersecurity experts the most is that this hacking attack was a malware that chose to target the facility safety processes (SIS – safety instrumentation system).

For example, when temperatures in a reactor increase to an unsafe level, an SIS will automatically start a cooling process or immediately close a valve to prevent a safety accident. The SIS safety stems are both hardware and software that combine to protect facilities from life threatening accidents.

At this point, no one is sure who is behind Xenotime. Russia has been connected to one of the critical infrastructure attacks in the Ukraine.  That attack was viewed to be the first hacker related power grid outage.

This is a “Cause for Concern” post that was published by Dragos on June 14, 2019

“While none of the electric utility targeting events has resulted in a known, successful intrusion into victim organizations to date, the persistent attempts, and expansion in scope is cause for definite concern. XENOTIME has successfully compromised several oil and gas environments which demonstrates its ability to do so in other verticals. Specifically, XENOTIME remains one of only four threats (along with ELECTRUM, Sandworm, and the entities responsible for Stuxnet) to execute a deliberate disruptive or destructive attack.

XENOTIME is the only known entity to specifically target safety instrumented systems (SIS) for disruptive or destructive purposes. Electric utility environments are significantly different from oil and gas operations in several aspects, but electric operations still have safety and protection equipment that could be targeted with similar tradecraft. XENOTIME expressing consistent, direct interest in electric utility operations is a cause for deep concern given this adversary’s willingness to compromise process safety – and thus integrity – to fulfill its mission.

XENOTIME’s expansion to another industry vertical is emblematic of an increasingly hostile industrial threat landscape. Most observed XENOTIME activity focuses on initial information gathering and access operations necessary for follow-on ICS intrusion operations. As seen in long-running state-sponsored intrusions into US, UK, and other electric infrastructure, entities are increasingly interested in the fundamentals of ICS operations and displaying all the hallmarks associated with information and access acquisition necessary to conduct future attacks. While Dragos sees no evidence at this time indicating that XENOTIME (or any other activity group, such as ELECTRUM or ALLANITE) is capable of executing a prolonged disruptive or destructive event on electric utility operations, observed activity strongly signals adversary interest in meeting the prerequisites for doing so.”

Heating Tapes: Application and Installation Tips

Heating Tape
High temperature tape (left) and
moisture & chemical resistant
tape (right).
Heating tapes are easy-to-use, ideal for a wide range of thermal applications, and inexpensive. This article will provide simple installation tips to improve your heating tape product life, application performance, and most importantly, your safety.

Why Heating Tapes?

Heating tapes offer many advantages for solving a wide range of gas, liquid, and solid heating applications. 

Advantages:
  1. Flexibility: Easily installs directly to a wide variety of surfaces and geometries (i.e. 1/4” diameter or larger piping, glassware, valves, reactors, chambers, etc.)
  2. Rapid and uniform heat-up due to high watt densities and user-configurable installations
  3. High temperature ranges
  4. Easily controlled with standard temperature controlling devices
  5. Variety of sizes, wattages, temperature ranges, and styles available to meet your exact heating requirements
Heating Tape
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
while installing or removing heating tape.

Step 1: Preparation

Prepare surface to be heated: Wipe the surface making sure there is no foreign material, like liquid, on the surface.  Foreign material inhibits heat transfer and liquid can damage select models of heating tape (i.e. High-Temperature Heating Tapes).  

Make a visual inspection of heating tape: We recommend that you replace the heating tape if it becomes torn or damaged.  Damaged heating tape is a safety hazard and will not operate correctly. 

Selecting the Proper Heating Tape
Heating Tape
Figure B

Selection of your tape depends on: 
  • Length, diameter, and configuration of the surface to be heated
  • Required temperature
  • Required wattage
  • Environmental conditions (i.e. likelihood heating tape will come into contact with moisture or chemicals)

Step 2: Installing your Heating Tape
Heating Tape
Figure C

Heating tape can be installed on nearly any surface due to its flexibility.  Spiral wrap the heating tape onto the surface to be heated so that the length of one entire side of the heating tape is in full contact with the surface (Figure B). The distance between spiral wraps is dependent on the uniformity requirements and the amount of available heating tape.  A minimum distance of 1/8” is required between spiral wraps to avoid damage to the heating tape.
Attach the heating tape to the surface by either using built-in tie straps (Figure C), high-temperature adhesive tape (Figure D), or mechanical clamping devices that will not cause damage to the heating tape. 
Heating Tape
Figure D

Ensure the heating tape is not kinked, twisted, or hanging free from the surface (Figure E and F). Do not overlap heating tape on itself (Figure G). This can cause damage to the heating tape due to overheating.

Do's
  • Make sure you have selected the correct heating tape for your application. BriskHeat offers a wide range of sizes, voltages, and temperature ranges.
  • Visually check your heating tape prior to use.
  • Make sure that the heating tape makes full contact with the surface to be heated.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions while installing or removing heating tape.
Heating Tape
Don't kink or overlap, apply without control, apply over
insulation, never use near flammable materials,
do not submerge, and do not use if tape is cut or damaged.
Don'ts
  • Do not overlap the heating tape over itself
  • Do not use heating tape without a controlling device
  • Do not install heating tape on top of insulation near flammable materials, submerged in liquids, or if cut in any way.
For more information about heat tapes, or any industrial heating application, contact Alliance Technical Sales by calling 630-321-9646 or by visiting https://alliancets.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Safety, Quality, Productivity: Rethinking Gas Analytics Across Process Industries

GPro® 500
Mettler Toledo Process Analytics designs analyzers and sensors based around a simple concept – how can the design, handling, and maintenance of their products help you improve quality, productivity, and safety? This led to their rethinking gas analytics and the development of a unique portfolio of gas instruments that offers you faster measurements, greater process availability, and unequalled ease of use.

The Mettler Toledo GPro® 500 TDL O2, CO, CO2 and moisture analyzers are designed for ease of installation and low maintenance operation in a wide variety of process applications in the refining, petrochemical, and associated process industries.

The GPro® 500 oxygen gas analyzer is a unique tunable diode laser spectrometer designed for safety applications. It uses a folded-path laser beam design for simple installation and measurement.
GPro® 500 Overview:
  • Ideal for applications such as: flare safety control, combustion control, chlorination and oxychlorination, process control, ESP filter production, vent headers, inertization and vapor recovery.
  • Is installed in situ, so you get a quick response without the need to extract and condition a sample. This provides a fast response time so that you can make real-time reactions to out-of-spec conditions.
  • Is configurable, enabling the oxygen gas analyzer's measurement system to be paired with a variety of process adaptions to meet a wide range of installation requirements.
  • Uses Intelligent Sensor Management (ISM®) technology to offer predictive diagnostics on analyzer condition, including informing you when cleaning of the optical path will be required.

Applications covered in the eBook include:
  • Direct Chlorination
  • VCM Waste Gas Recovery
  • FCC Units
  • Electrostatic Precipitators
  • Formaldehyde Production
  • Formaldehyde Production
For more information about GPro® 500 TDL O2, CO, CO2 and moisture analyzers, contact Alliance Technical Sales by calling 630-321-9646 or by visiting https://alliancets.com